Today, American Whiskey is dominated by the major American Whiskey brands. Well known Bourbon brands include Jack Daniels Whiskey, Wild Turkey bourbon, Woodford Reserve, Old Whiskey River, Jim Beam, Eagle Rare and many more.
Well known Rye Whiskey brands are Sazerac, Van Winkle Family Reserve, Rock and Rye, Jim Beam Rye etc
Whiskey was originally introduced to the Americas by Northern Irish immigrants of Scottish origin.
Whiskey has long been ruled by Bourbon since prohibition really forced out the prominance of Rye Whiskies.
Where did the name Bourbon come from?
The French helped the Americans in the War of Independence, and the Americans acknowledged this by naming towns and counties after the French royal family. Bourbon County in Kentucky, was known for shipping American Whiskey down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans and other big cities.
Local corn is always used to make Bourbon, along with rye or wheat. Bourbon Whiskey is then matured in a fresh oak barrel.
The inside of the Whiskey barrel is charred to help the spirit permeate the wood. After just one use the barrels are then shipped to Scotland to be used in maturing Scotch Whisky.
Rye Whiskey, whilst mainly a sideline for Bourbon distilleries in Kentucky, is making a comeback with product being widely exported, production increasing, and product such as Sazerac Rye being regarded by some converts as the Holy Grail of American Whiskey made from rye.
Anchor produce Old Potrero which has been described as having the most assertive rye character of any whiskey in the world
The American Whiskey scene has developed its own malt whiskey region, and that is Portland, Oregon. Here you can find the Clear Creek Distillery which produces what Jim Murrays Whisky Bible calls a "beautifully peated Macarthey's", and a second distillery called Edgefield which produces equally goodexamples.
So the Whiskey making tradition in the USA is certainly alive and kicking, so much so that in 2005 Jim Murray World Whiskey of the year was an American Whiskey, the extraordinary George T Stagg